With the announcement from Apple confirming a problem with the batteries of their older model iPhones, comes the inevitable rush to take advantage of the replacement offer from the company.

 

A family member with a 6s model is one of the customers interested in this offer. The first query sent off to the local iStore comes back with a response that battery replacement is done only when the phone is still under warranty. Maybe the local store was unaware of the global happenings in this regard?

 

This early in 2018, this case provided excellent customer experience-related material to consider. If you have had similar experiences with the same or other stores, drop me a note — your take on the root causes of these experience fails would allow us to have an interesting debate. Here are the experience highlights (or are they lowlights?) from this case:

 

1. The store is unable to take an appointment online as required by its own processes.

  • iStore requires a customer to have an appointment in order to receive technical assistance, and the appointment is made online. (If it works, this is an excellent feature from the perspective of the connected consumer!)
  • The problem is that the local store’s calendar is red (blocked) until 2021…. Maybe it’s that busy…, maybe someone forgot to “unlock” the calendar, or maybe it was done on purpose because the store cannot operate according to the scheduling processes put in place. The bottom line is that no appointment is possible even with the fancy calendar in place!
  • But wait! There is a chat facility and, yes, the chatbot is able to make the appointment. YAY!!

2. The replacement of a battery takes 5 to 7 working days.

  • When the customer arrives for the appointment at the store (made by the chatbot), the support desk starts capturing his details. At the end of the capturing, the support agent tells the customer that the repair will take 5 to 7 working days.
  • I do not know of anyone that is able to just “hand in” a device and exist without their smart phone for a week. Sure, many people have more than one device, but it is not necessarily possible to authenticate more than one device for online banking.
  • To hand in your device means the device that authenticates your online banking, keeps track of all your passwords and monitors your health-related activities will be out of your hands for a whole week. When a competing repair store does the same in one hour, how can both businesses be in the repair business (or is there a catch?)

3. The competing repair store’s online presence did not respond to queries about replacement of batteries.

  • More than two days passed before the family member was able to confirm that the battery could be replaced according to Apple’s announcement at the iFix store.
  • This was after a response confirmed immediate follow up, which then had to be escalated before the “immediate follow up” was executed.

4. The phone is handed in at an iFix store to replace the battery within 2 hours.

  • In the end, iFix got the business, even though their service was more expensive. The key requirement, that the replacement be done within a short timeframe was met. (2 hours compared to 5 – 7 days).
  • The initial customer experience wasn’t good, but iFix was able to turn it around and win the customer.

 

Looking at root causes for the experiences described above, could be an interesting exercise. What would you position as the main root causes?

 

As a start, consider the business. … Any business consists broadly of processes, people, technology and data that work together in a system. For the business to deliver an exceptional customer experience, the interaction and interdependence of components in the system must be understood and managed. And whilst businesses are still reliant on fallible humans to perform human-centric communication, the impact of the system on the performance of employees is fundamental.

 

“The performance of anybody, almost anybody, is governed almost totally by the system he works in… In actual life it may be that 98% of performance comes from the system.”

 

It would be easy and neat to point fingers at employees for the experience failing above, but are people the real and only reason the customer’s experience failed in the case?

 

Is it time that you assess your digital business and the system that it creates, to determine the root causes of customer experience issues? Is it time to understand the foundational components that impact on employees and drive the behaviour reflecting in customer experience outcomes?

 

Given the experience-driven economy, I know what my answer will be. What is yours?